By Coach Vic Pruden

A framework is a conceptual system of play that helps teammates
co-ordinate their actions and decision making. It also allows them to
anticipate what is likely to happen next. For example, when players
anticipate that a teammate is about to get a defensive rebound, they
know where to move quickly on the court and what to do when they get
there. The player who gets the rebound also knows not only what to do,
but also what his teammates should be doing.



Following are steps for developing a framework for play on offence.   

STEP 1 – Divide the Court into Parts Called a Court Grid
The basketball court consists of a back court and front court, separated by the mid court.  These three parts of the grid make up the full court. The basketball court is also divided along its length into three lanes of equal width and into  two halves.

STEP 2 – Design a Set for Each Part of the Court Grid

A set is a formation of positions for the back court, mid court, front court, and full court. A set may consist of more than five positions, but at any particular moment only five will be used. For each set, (a) name the positions, (b) define their location on the court, and (c) identify the areas of no man’s land ; the area between any two positions in which a player will not receive a pass. Consequently, when in no man’s land , a player, rather than watching the player with ball, can read the defence.

Each set  is effective  against any defence, whether zone, man-to-man, or a combination defence.

Location of the Positions: Positions I, 3, and 5 are the strong-side positions, and 2 and 4 are the weak-side positions. The Lo Post (5) position is located at the side of the paint between the bottom of the restraining circle and to just in front of the hoop. The two guard (1, 2) positions are located between the free-throw line to just outside the three-point line, and are on a tangent that runs toward the centre of the court from the point at which the free-throw line joins the restraining circle. The for¬ward (3,4) positions are on a line extending from the bottom of the restraining circle, either side of the three-point arc. There is a Lo Post (5) position on both sides of the paint. Therefore, when the player in 5 moves across the paint after a reverse pass from 1 to 2, the strong and weak-side positions flip flop.

STEP 3 – Assign Tasks to Each Position

Tasks are things that a player can do. Those tasks that involve choice are play options, such as passing, shooting, driving, stunting, free cutting, and screening. Others do not involve choice, such as anticipating ball possession and occupying positions quickly, keying, pinning, and not passing to a player in no man’s land. Before assigning tasks, create a task inventory over and above those in the one-on-one inventory. Once the tasks have been assigned, sequence them, so that players now what to do first, second, and so on. For example, as the ball can be advanced quicker with a pass than with a dribble, a player should check off a passing option before dribbling, particularly in full-court play. To play effectively within a framework, a player in a particular position should know not only his/her tasks, but also those assigned to the positions teammates are occupying.

After occupying a position, players should play within their limitations, that is, in a manner consistent with their athletic abilities and skill levels.

STEP 4 – Define a System for Assigning Priority to a Position in Relation to the Position Occupied by the Player with the Ball

When a player has the ball, four teammates do not. As there is only one ball, only one of the other four teammates should have priority. Consequently, during each moment of play, the player with the ball who is ready to pass will check off a passing option to the teammate who has priority. What that player does determines what happens next. For example, in front-court play, the player can call for the ball, cut to the hoop, or set a screen for a teammate.

STEP 5 – Define How Players Occupy Positions in a Set

Players need to know the procedure for occupying positions in a particular set. They can be assigned to a 5 group, a 3:2 group, or a 4:1 group. Within each grouping, players occupy positions on a first-come, first-served  or on a designated basis. On the first-come, first-served basis, players move quickly to occupy positions, with the player in advance of another having priority. On the latter basis, players are assigned to occupy particular positions. For example, after an opponent scores a field goal, a particular player may be assigned to execute the baseline throw in, while teammates occupy positions on a first-come, first-served basis within their group.

Step 6 – Define a System for Transition from Between Sets

The location of the ball on the court grid cues set selection. Therefore, when a player, for example, has the ball in the back court, that player and teammates occupy positions in the back-court set. As a team enters the ball with a pass or a dribble from the back court into the mid-court, transition occurs from the back-court set to the mid-court set. As that entry occurs, the player with ball can enter the ball quickly with a pass or a dribble into the fast-break triangle. Not entering the into the fast-break triangle, he/she cues teammates to use the mid-court set. The purpose of play in the mid-court is two-fold; first, to execute a passing or dribble entry into the front-court set or, second, to use the mid-court set to run time off the clock, before entering the ball into the front-court.

STEP 7 -  Identify How Players are to Maintain Defensive Balance

Transition from offence to defence occurs the moment players anticipate loss of ball possession. Define how they do this (a) when the opposing team gets a defensive rebound, (b) after a score, and (d) after a turn over.

STEP 8 – Develop a Narrative for Play in Each Set and for Transition from One Set to Another

A narrative explains the various ways play can unfold. It identifies the tasks assigned to the positions occupied by (a) the player with the ball, (b) the player who has priority, (c) the other three teammates. Having this information, players select the most appropriate play options to execute.  Effective narratives will help players to play with discipline, that is, within the framework, while allowing them to play with spontaneity, imagination, and creativeness. Following is an example of part of a front-court narrative (diagram in Step 2).


Play with the Ball in 1: The player in 1 checks off a penetrating, a skip, or a reverse pass to a weak-side teammate. The player in 2 has priority. If guarded, he/she walks his/her opponent. At the end of the walk, the player can dive to the hoop, move to screen for the player in 4, or pop. Not receiving a pass after popping, the player immediately dives to the hoop. Not receiving a penetrating pass after diving, he/she and the other weak-side player execute an exchange of positions. However, as the player in 2 dives, the player in 4 can call for a skip pass, should his/her check react to the dive.

When 2 moves to set a screen for the player in 4, they read the defence and select the most appropriate option to execute that is associated with screening. While the screen is being set, the screener has priority. For example, if the player guarding the screener lags, that is, cheats, the screener will immediately dive. Once the screen is set, however, the player for whom the screen is set has priority. He, she can back door, curl, call for a skip pass, or move to occupy the 2 position. On a curl or back door, the screener will call for a skip pass or move to occupy the 2 position. On a skip pass, the screener will square-up to the basket, so that his/her teammate can use him/her as a screen to shoot over or drive. When the player for whom the screen was set moves to occupy the 2 position, the screener can dive or call for a skip pass.

While checking-off passing options to weak-side teammates, 1, can shoot, or if live, can drive. He must also be ready to pass to 5, the moment the player guarding 5 relaxes or is distracted by weak-side play. Also, if 5 is being over-played, 1 can execute a relay pass to 3. This pass cues the player in 5 to seal his opponent and call for the ball from 3.

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